Sunday, January 01, 2017

Davos - Schatzalp to Strelapass

New year's day, so I decided to go on a winter hike. This year just like last year there is no snow in the mountains. So in the end after looking at many webcams Davos seemed like the best option. It is not one of my favourite places, too famous for its own good. But at least there are webcams to show state of snow and being a popular destination during holidays, more trails are built up here.

I took the 7:21am train towards Davos, was lucky to find supersaver tickets for 21.60CHF (original 27 CHF) to Davos Platz. It is a 2 hr 35min trip from Thalwil with a longish 15min stop at Landquart. In the Ziegelbrucke valley there was snow on the ground and none on the tree tops and mountains, it was an interesting phenomenon, probably caused by the fact that this valley does not receive much sunshine.

Once in Davos valley, snow was visible on mountain tops. The train was on time at Davos Platz, but I had some trouble finding the Schatzalp Bergbahn, it requires a bit of walking back towards Dorf. Finally at the talstation I bought one way ticket to be whisked away 300m, at cost of 8 CHF (no halbtax benefits), it was rather steep, but that is Davos for you. At bergstation, I had a Deja Vu, I might have done this hike before or many Swiss hikes look the same.

We started off on the Sonnenweg. At the first fork I decided to take left. This is the longer trail that
winds up slowly with many switch backs. We were able to cut across many of these switchbacks, especially since for some there there were bits icy snow patches at the loop ends. At one point there was a big icy patch that I did not feel like crossing, and the bergstation of chairlift was clearly visible on top, so I just headed straight uphill towards it making my own trail. This would be a total no no in US where it is important to conserve the wild grasslands, but these lands are where cattle graze in summer, so how much more damage can I really do! And anyway in couple of weeks all the grass will be killed by snow cover.

At the chairlift bergstation we met the much wider trail coming straight up from Davos. And suddenly from here at elevation of 2100m the winter trail also starts. The snow was nice and crunchy at most parts. Some icy section that can easily be avoided. We were surrounded by 3000m+ mountains which all had snow "caps" on them. Right opposite across Davos valley was Jakobshorn where they had made a ski run on the way from top to the valley. It was interesting to see little dots sliding down the steep slope. In front we had other mountains. It took about an hr to reach Strellapass. From the pass we can also see the mountains across towards Arosa valley. I would expect this to make a nice valley - valley summer hike. I wonder why I have never considered it.

At the pass a lunch of pulav and then heading back. As usual I was apprehensive about the journey back through snow, but this one provided no difficulty. There were always work arounds for the icy patches. I took just one fall, nothing to worry. Also did a short detour through the summer hiking trail which many were using and had a nice path formed in snow through it. At chairlift bergstation I decided to take the straight way down to Davos instead of windy Sonnenweg. It is a broad path and there were MANY people on it now.

Since I had pre-bought my return ticket for 17:02 train, I had plenty of time to spent. Spent half an hour sitting in sun on the way, and then back. I was at Davos by 15:20. Today all shops were open here for special sunday shopping. After getting some stuff from Coop, it was off to Davos station for waiting for my train. The station is actually quite nice and has benches to sit on in waiting room. Thanks to my book, time passed quickly and then back home.